President-elect Biden appoints COVID task force

Evan Halper
Los Angeles Times (TNS)
President-elect Joe Biden has begun his transition in to a new administration Monday by creating a COVID-19 task force.

WASHINGTON - President-elect Joe Biden, whose promise to bring competence to the federal government's pandemic response was a central theme of his campaign, appointed an advisory board Monday of top public-health experts to guide his transition team's COVID-19 planning.

The unveiling of the names came as the first public act of the Biden-Harris transition, signaling the urgency of the issue and its importance in propelling Biden to the White House. The president-elect's first public appearance since declaring victory is scheduled to be a speech later Monday about his plan to beat the pandemic.

The new advisory board will be led by three prominent Biden advisers - former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler, former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and Marcella Nunez-Smith, an associate professor of internal medicine, public health, and management at Yale University.

"Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts," Biden said in a statement. "The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations."

The appointments come as the virus continues to surge, increasing its spread in at least 40 states.

The new board is intended to guide the incoming administration's response. It will be consulting with state and local officials to gauge public-health steps needed to bring the virus under control, Biden campaign officials said. The board will also focus on racial and ethnic disparities in how, where and how quickly the virus is spreading.

Other members of the board are:

Luciana Borio, a vice president at In-Q-Tel.

Rick Bright, an immunologist, virologist and former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and former deputy assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Ezekiel J. Emanuel, an oncologist and vice provost for Global Initiatives and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

Atul Gawande, a professor of surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital and at Harvard Medical School.

Celine Gounder, a clinical assistant professor at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

Julie Morita, executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

Loyce Pace, executive director and president of Global Health Council.

Robert Rodriguez, a professor of emergency medicine at UCSF School of Medicine.

Eric Goosby, a professor of medicine at UCSF School of Medicine.